Solomon Islands Ministry Of Environment Investigating Oil Spill At Logging Camp

150 containers of oil stored at abandoned Tanaro site reportedly shipped into country illegally

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, March 21, 2017) – Oil stored in containers at an abandon logging camp at Tanaro, Northwest Guadalcanal is now spilling into the environment.

A senior officer from the Ministry of Environment Edward Danitofea told the Solomon Star that these were used oil stored in 150 IBC containers.

Mr Danitofea said it is believed that these were from the 500 IBC containers which were alleged to be illegally transported into the country on-board MV Neptune Gale in 2015.

He said MV Neptune Gale was detained by Customs in 2015 and in its attempt to avoid Customs officials the vessel off loaded 150 IBC oil containers and hid them at Tanaro logging camp.

“Our division is currently investigating the waste oil spill and will take legal action against responsible parties involved in the dealing.

“We are looking at plans to restrain the spill to avoid environmental health effects to surrounding communities,” Mr Danitofea said. 

Ministry of Environment and Conservation Permanent Secretary Dr Melchior Mataki said the illegal consignment was caught in 2015 and MV Neptune gale was detained by Customs.

“Currently, the oil has already started to spill and is affecting the nearby stream,” Dr Mataki said.

“The containers contain bulk of waste oil that was shipped from Papua New Guinea,” he said.

He confirmed they are currently dealing with it.

“There are more than 200 IBC containers which contain 1000 litres of waste oil.

“It was illegally shipped to Solomon Islands from Papua New Guinea.

“It did not get clearance and was in breach of the Waigani Convention.

“This is the Convention to ban the importation into Forum Island Countries of Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes and to Control the Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous wastes within the South Pacific Region, known also as Waigani Convention, entered into force the 21st October 2001.

“It represents the Regional implementation of the international regime for controlling the trans-boundary movement of hazardous wastes which PNG is party to including Cook islands, FSM, Fiji, Kiribati, RMI, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

“This is a very serious issue which we are taking into and looking into with serious control measures to address,” Dr Mataki said.

“The quantity is very large and is seated by the coastline and already threatening our villages. It could also be a serious potential to our water threat.

“We are trying to locate the importers but we have not been able to locate them and also there has not been any help from the initial source of the supply both from the company in PNG and the PNG authorities,” he said.

“We have been in discussions with colleagues in Port Moresby. This is a confirmed breach of procedures by the Waigani Convention which governs importation into Forum Island Countries of Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes and to Control the Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous wastes within the South Pacific Region. Now our counterparts are not assisting,” he added.

Customs office in Honiara said they impounded the shipment in October last year but confirmed the vessel escaped with the waste oil after a week of it impounded.

It was later discovered that about 250 of these IBC containers were offloaded and abandoned by the ship at a logging camp at Tanaro while the rest are still at large.

Meanwhile, Mr Danitofea said yesterday a team from the Environment and Conservation Division went to the site to contain the spill from spreading into nearby stream.

“We went to contain the site over the weekend and we are working closely with South Pacific Oil to provide us with equipment to deal with waste oil.

“Our major concern is the heavy rain today which will push the spill into nearby streams and coastal areas,” he said on Monday.

The senior environmental officer said his division also had a meeting yesterday to decide on a plan to deal with the spill.

Solomon Star
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